Teens Who Vape are More Likely to Later Try Real Cigarettes

This information comes from the North Dakota Department of Health monthly Safety Flier

In 2012, Thomas Wills walked into a high school in Hawaii to distribute surveys and was surprised to find students vaping in class. Back then, he said, only a handful of students were smoking electronic cigarettes – a year later, nearly 30 percent of Hawaii high school students had tried them at least once.

That reflects a broader national trend: a 2014 survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 2 million high school students used e-cigarettes at least once in the prior month. But that trend might have a worrisome corollary. Teens who start with e-cigarettes are more likely to later smoke cigarettes, Wills’s group had found.

In the study, Wills followed more than 2,000 high school students for a year. Teens who had never used e-cigarettes at the beginning of the study had a 5% likelihood of becoming smokers a year later. Wills found that correlation held true even after he controlled for factors like age, gender, parental education, and rebelliousness. The findings were published Monday in the BMJ.

The research confirms the results of earlier studies which have found that e-cigarette use correlates with subsequent cigarette smoking among adolescents. One caveat, however: some individuals who started smoking e-cigarettes might have become smokers later anyway, regardless of their e-cigarette usage. But Wills said that controlling for information about students’ demographics, personality, and upbringing, which he did, should mitigate that effect.

Many of the health impacts of e-cigarettes are not well understood. That has led pediatricians to call for laws against e-cigarette sales to minors.

But e-cigarettes can have benefits too, said Dr. Brian Primack, a professor and clinician at the University of Pittsburgh not involved with this study.

“I certainly see adults who are able to cut down on the number of cigarettes they smoke because of e-cigarettes,” Primack said. “In a lot of ways we have to be able to celebrate that and encourage that. On the other hand, I’ve also seen in my clinical practice a lot of people who start to use e-cigarettes to try to stop smoking, and they end up just smoking more.”

The next step for Willis’s group is answering the question of why students who vape are more likely to become smokers. He said that he has some preliminary results that show that e-cigarette use produces positive attitudes toward smoking, which he will be presenting at a conference next year.

Study Finds Some E-Cigarettes Contain Enough Alcohol to Affect Motor Skills

Some types of e-cigarettes contain enough alcohol to affect motor skills, a new study concludes. E-cigarettes deliver nicotine by vaporizing liquids, which may contain alcohol and other chemicals.

Yale University researchers tested people who used two commercially available e-cigarettes with either high or low amounts of alcohol. Neither group said they felt differently after they inhaled the vapor. But those who used e-cigarettes with high alcohol levels performed more poorly on psychomotor tests. In some cases, they had detectable levels of alcohol in their urine.

“They didn’t actually know they were under the influence of alcohol,” lead researcher Dr. Mehmet Sofuoglu told CNBC. “It still influenced their performance.”

About three-quarters of the commercial e-cigarette liquids tested contained less than 1 percent alcohol. Some e-cigarette users create their own liquids with high alcohol content, the researchers note in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence. Almost nothing is known about the prevalence of using e-liquids that contain alcohol, they said.

Sofuoglu said the findings are worrisome, especially in light of a reecent governement report that found e-cigarette use among teens tripled from 2013 to 2014. An estimated 13 percent of high school students used e-cigarettes in 2014 – compared with 9 percent who smoked traditional cigarettes.

“Given the widespread and unregulated use of e-cigarettes, especially by youth and other vulnerable populations, further studies are needed to evaluate both the acute safety and long-term health risks of using alcohol-containing e-cigarettes,” he said in a news release.

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